Best R&B/Pop Record (Unsigned/Independent) of 2012
In a category dominated by more traditional singer/songwriter fare, The World Famous Tony Williams' Blazin' High distinguished itself with features more characteristic of a big-name rap record than an indie-R&B joint: weed-themed lyrics, pounding club boardwork (courtesy of Oddz. N. Endz) and a cross-regional slate of features (Wale, Emilio Rojas and Macklemore each contribute a guest 16). Unconventional as the G.O.O.D. Music affiliate's strategy may have been, it turned out to be winning one, earning the Some of My Best Rappers Are Friends inclusion plaudits from our readers and, now, the trophy for 2012's best independent R&B cut.
Avery Storm - Problems
Apparently I/O (aka Ayo Olatunji) saved the best for first. His DJBooth debut, Strangers, would catapult the young Big Apple singer/songwriter from relative unknown status to eventual Best of the Booth winner. Powered by Jordan Ware's understated production, on Strangers I/O uses some serious songwriting skills and emotional delivery to convey the reality that in life love can come from seemingly nowhere, and then love disappears into the crowd.